Free Markets, Free People

Post Office

Your Tuesday “surprise”

And yes, I’m being sarcastic:

The U.S. Postal Service’s current business model “is not viable” and the mail agency should make deeper job and wage cuts, hire more part-time staff and consider outsourcing operations, according to a draft of a government audit acquired by The Federal Eye.

Auditors also urge Congress to remove restrictions on the Postal Service’s ability to cut Saturday mail delivery and close post offices, according to the report, which offers recommendations similar to the USPS’s own proposed 10-year business plan.

Lawmakers requested the Government Accountability Office report, set for a Monday release, as they prepare to consider the USPS plan, which was introduced last month. The proposals call for an end to six-day delivery and ask Congress to give the mail agency the ability to raise prices beyond the rate of inflation and close post offices if necessary.

Other than law, there is no reason the mail should be a government run service.  Nothing.  And especially now.  If ever a part of the government could easily be privatized, this is it.  Every single service it provides exists now in the private sector, and there’s not a single reason I can think of to continue subsidizing this fiscal black hole.  But as you’ll see, even as it loses billions of dollars a year, there is no appetite to shut it down.  Why?

Well of course there is the aspect of putting people out of work during a recession with high unemployment.  But even if that wasn’t a problem politically, would anyone seriously consider shutting this money loser down?  Instead, you, the consumer, will be faced with higher prices, less service and fewer locations.  How would you treat a private business that offered such a fix to their business problems?

You’d look elsewhere, of course.

That’s the power of monopoly of course – government granted monopoly.  It is against the law to compete against the post office.  But, as you can see, monopoly doesn’t grant guaranteed success or profit.  Everything the post office does can be and would be done by competing private firms to ensure the cheapest price and best service at that price point.  Instead you’re kept captive to an organization that is inefficient, unprofitable and overpriced.

So why isn’t the government at large at least putting a panel together (a favorite bureaucratic ploy to delay a decision – panel, report, furor has died down, results buried) to explore privatizing the post office?  Is it because the party in power isn’t in favor of shifting anything out of government’s control?  Then why aren’t the Republicans bringing it up?  If “smaller and less costly” government is the new standard, it would seem – given the report above and its recent history of loss – that the post office would be a perfect candidate for privatizing.  Or is it because politicians have so demonized the term “privatization”?

Why not shut it down and allow those who already do this privately to take it over?  Who would you depend on to get it to you if you had to bet on it – FedEx or USPS?  And would you object to FedEx (or UPS) doing it instead?  Yeah, me neither – and I’d bet, given most people’s experience with the private carriers, 90% of the rest of the country wouldn’t care either.

So what’s the hold up?